Do we really need the label "Attachment Parenting" in our already overly labelled lives? Before I wade too deep into this debate, please note that I by no means disapprove of how self-proclaimed Attachment Parents raise their children; I don't. I just don't like unnecessary labels. Labelling an approach turns it into a movement and then you inevitably get extremists: extremists who label other parents as child abusers for instilling routines or sleep training their children, or extremists who label formula as poison.
So if you're not one of these wonderful Attachment parents, does that mean that you're a detached parent? Of course you're not! It is a ridiculous label.
Parenting labels can make those who don't follow such an approach feel inferior or worry that they're a terrible parent. They can also make those who do follow such approach feel guilty when perhaps they just want a break from it or to steer off course slightly.
Essentially, the principle behind Attachment Parenting it is to love, nurture and respond to your baby's needs...hang on a second, isn't that just normal parenting? Yet once you put a label on it, then of course there's a whole host of rather specific methods which advocates advise in order to raise a secure and happy child.
As I've said, I'm not especially against any of their specific methods, but there are some aspects that I personally haven't followed. For example, I didn't breastfeed one of my boys - does that make me detached from him, yet attached to the other? We rarely co-sleep and both boys have slept in their own rooms since a little before six months old - does that make me disconnected from my children? I don't think so!
As an Attachment Parent, you are supposed to respond to all behaviour with sensitivity and practice positive discipline; work out a solution with your little one; never just impose your will on them...Okaaaaaaay. So the next time my two year old has a roaring and writhing tantrum on the floor in the middle of a garden centre, refusing to get up unless I give him a biscuit, this is how I shall handle it: I shall lie down with him. I shall invite the onlooking and disapproving old ladies to lie down with us. We shall ask him together - why does he desire such an unhealthy snack? We shall reach a compromise together and encourage him to calm the heck down by sensitively singing "Baa Baa polka-dot sheep, we'll never shear your wool". Once balance has been restored, I'll "baby wear" him to the Café for some cardamom and rose water infused rice cakes!
Ok, perhaps that was a little too far.
Actually, there is one aspect of Attachment Parenting which I don't think is fair to recommend, and that is that parents are advised not to put their children in childcare for more than 20 hours a week until they are 30 months old. Not only is that unrealistic for many working parents struggling to make ends meet, but it also sparks the pathetic and completely unnecessary "stay at home mum" versus the "working mum" debate. Aren't we all just trying our best?
Attachment Parents feed with "Love and Respect". When my boys were newborns, I fed them on demand, however, after about four weeks, I started to establish a "feeding routine" (which is the devil to Attachment Parenting), and shock horror, this was "mummy led" and not "baby led". My thoughts were that the more milk I could get down them during the day, the longer they would go at night. It worked. Both boys slept better and were less sicky if they fed every three hours, rather than just snacking on demand every hour come night or day. Oooooooh terrible detached parenting I hear you cry!
My poor children are going to grow up scared of me, scared of bed, scared of food, scared of life!
What a gargantuan pile of polka-dot baa baa sheep poo!!
If you want to put a label on my parenting approach, then do. I follow the "mish-mash, do the best you can, trust your instincts, find a balance and try to block out pushy preachy parenting approaches" approach. It's a mix: some so called Attachment Parenting, some old school parenting and some freestyle parenting. And so far it has worked very well for us.
We're neither attached, nor detached, we're just normal!